A new engine for the Pakistani JF-17 fighter jet, dubbed RD-93MA being developed by Russia’s United Engine Corporation (UEC)-Klimov has entered thermal chamber tests to confirm high-speed characteristics in simulated flight conditions.
The RD-93MA has been specifically developed to power single engine light fighter jets. It is an upgrade of the RD-93 engine which currently powers the Pakistani JF-17/Chinese Chengdu FC-1 single engine fighter jets.
With the successful completion of the thermal chamber test stage, it will be possible to proceed to flight design tests. A set of tests in the TsIAM large thermal pressure chamber will be held as part of the experimental design work on the RD-93MA, a UEC statement said today.
During the tests, the engine will simulate conditions as close as possible to actual flight. Here, the BARK-93MA, the automatic control system of the engine, designed and manufactured at UEC-Klimov, will also be put to test.
The thrust of the RD-93MA is expected to 9300 Kgf compared to 8300 kgf of the RD-93, a significant bump-up in power which will help the JF-17/FC-1 to carry more armaments and fly at a higher speed (this information is not from UEC but earlier published sources).
“The RD-93MA engine is distinguished by improved operational characteristics, increased thermodynamic parameters, a larger fan and an upgraded automatic power plant control system. The main engine parameters are also enhanced- the assigned resource and thrust, an emergency engine start mode is provided, and the possibility of emergency fuel drain is realized.” the statement said.
“All this is due to the specifics associated with the possible use of the power plant on a single-engine aircraft, which entails additional safety requirements,” the statement added leaving no doubt as to its potential applications for an foreign customer as Russia does not possess a single-engine fighter jet.
“The start of testing was preceded by a long preparatory phase. During 2018-2019 design documentation was handed over to manufacturing plants, production was organized in a new cooperation structure, engine models of the RD-93MA were developed and a new engine "harness" was manufactured. In addition, tests of the VK-100-1MK turbo-starter in the TsIAM heat chamber according to confirmation of high-altitude launch were conducted. Prototypes of the BARK-93MA (automatic engine control system) were made and much more,” the statement said.
The JF-17 block III, a highly advanced version of the JF-17 Block II, was test flown for the first time at the start of this year. Besides the engine, the key upgrade is an AESA- Active electronically scanning array- radar which has already been selected from a Chinese manufacturer.
Earlier reports said the RD-93MA engine will be directly sold to Pakistan. However, sources told defenseworld.net that the engine upgrade work is under contract from a Chinese company for which over 100 such engines is to be manufactured.
The engine is expected to enter fight test mode towards the end of the year which means the JF-17 Block III would enter flight tests with the RD-93MA engine sometime in 2021-22 at the earliest.